Enforcing Court Orders in Pennsylvania

court orderThe primary value of a court order dealing with asset distribution, child custody, child support and/or alimony, is that the details of these orders are legally enforceable.

  • If a parent fails to pay an order for support, he or she can face arrest and other legal action.
  • If a former spouse fails to pay on alimony commitments, he or she can face wage garnishment.
  • If a parent makes visitation between the child and the other parent difficult or impossible, consistently violating agreed-upon drop-off and pick-up times, or schedules events when the child should be with the other parent, that is a violation of the order and the parent can face legal action.

The ability to enforce a court order is one very important reason why people should not try to negotiate informal agreements between themselves but should go back to court when they need a custody order changed or a support order modified.

Is your child custody, spousal support or child support agreement no longer working for you or your child? Has your former partner failed to follow a family law court decree? Our law firm can help you modify your family law court decrees or help you enforce those orders when a former spouse or partner is in contempt of court.

Enforcing Court Orders

It’s often the case that filing a contempt petition is inadvisable unless the other party’s behavior has been egregious, because of the potential for legal action creating even more difficult conditions. Attempts can be made, often helped along by a letter from a lawyer, to convince the other party to live up to his or her end of the agreement.

When circumstances do warrant legal action, we can file a contempt petition to compel cooperation with mandatory court orders for support or to enforce terms of a child custody agreement. If you are owed back child support or alimony, a legal judgment in your favor may allow you to levy wages, seize money in a bank account, or seize tax refund money.

Enforcement of the conditions of a child custody agreement is somewhat more difficult to enforce. If, for example, you are having difficulty getting a parent to return a child at the agreed-upon time, the only possible solution may be a change in the custody agreement that penalizes the parent by providing less time or ordering supervised custody.

If You Are Having Trouble Complying With a Court Order

If financial problems are causing you to be late with child support or to miss alimony payments, do not try to reach an informal agreement with the other party or simply withhold payment with the thought that you will catch up with missed payments in the future. Talk to an attorney about taking your case back to court to get your support order modified.

You face serious penalties for failure to pay child support or alimony, including arrest and jail time, wage garnishment, seizure of assets, and loss of your driver’s license. If you make an informal agreement, the other party may still take you to court to seek the remaining funds.  We work to secure a modification of court orders, to negotiate repayment plans, and to minimize potential penalties our clients may face.